Hiroshima Peace Memorial, commonly called the Atomic Bomb Dome or Genbaku Domu, in Hiroshima, Japan, is part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The ruin serves as a memorial to the people who were killed in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. Over 70,000 people were killed instantly, and another 70,000 suffered fatal injuries from the radiation.
The Product Exhibition Hall building was originally designed by the Czech architect Jan Letzel. The design included a distinctive dome at the highest part of the building. It was completed in April 1915 and was named the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition. It was formally opened to the public in August that year. In 1921, the name was changed to the Hiroshima Prefectural Products Exhibition Hall, and again, in 1933, to the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. The building was located in the large business district next to the Aioi Bridge and was primarily used for arts and educational exhibitions.
The building was the only structure left standing near the bomb’s hypocenter. Soon commonly called the Genbaku Dome, due to the exposed metal dome framework at its apex, the structure was scheduled to be demolished with the rest of the ruins, but the majority of the building was intact, delaying the demolition plans. The Dome became a subject of controversy, with some locals wanting it torn down, while others wanted to preserve it as a memorial of the bombing and a symbol of peace. Ultimately, when the reconstruction of Hiroshima began, the skeletal remains of the building were preserved.
From 1950 through 1964, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was established around the Dome. The Hiroshima City Council adopted a resolution in 1966 on the permanent preservation of the Genbaku Dome, officially named the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. The Dome continues to be the park’s primary landmark.